The Prado

One of my first days here in Madrid we traveled to the Prado Museum. The Prado holds some amazing classical masterpieces from many famous artists. I decided on entrance to the museum that I would walk through alone. Art is something I want to experience on my own. I feel so because when alone I can let my independent thoughts flow freely as I analyze the art pieces. As I walked through the Prado I came upon many religious paintings, almost every one was quite religious actually, which is of course normal with historical and classical art pieces. I enjoyed viewing each artists different interpretations of Jesus, Mary, and the Holy Family. As I walked through the museum I could not help but to get lost in the art pieces. I wondered what the artists thoughts were as he or she painted these beautiful images. I’m sure that each stroke of the paint brush flowed with thought and determination. Especially with the religious pieces. I wonder what the artists were thinking as they painted the crucified Christ? Was their painting a form of worship, done to honor Jesus? I like to think that is was.
It was not a very famous piece that truly caught my eye and my flowing thoughts though, it was actually a small image. A painting of Saint Monica, Saint Augustine’s mother. In Augustine’s confessions he wrote about his loving, faithful mother who followed him everywhere, praying for him everyday. What a perfect picture of Christ that is, not giving up on loved ones, instead waiting for them in silent and solemn prayer, moreover, in faithfulness.
As I got lost in the image of Saint Monica’s yearning eyes I began to desire the pure faith that was expressed in the painting. I could not step away from the picture. Even when I did leave to view other art pieces, I went back.
I could not help but to write my overflowing thoughts down as I viewed this masterpiece, here is what I wrote:
Her faith, her adoration, pain and sacrifice, solomn prayer and faithfulness, a beautiful and simple nun. She was not worldly but heavenly. Longing to please Christ in all that she does, I imagine her praying for Saint Augustine, I imagine her thoughts, I imagine the painter Tristan’s thoughts. I see myself in her yearning eyes, longing to meet Christ in heaven, I see that she longed all the days of her life to be faithful and true. I long to be faithful like Saint Monica, to have the yearning eyes that she has. Simple and true.
After I wrote the said words, I began to question why this image had such a great impact on me. Why would an image of a praying nun intrigue me so much? I know that God wanted me to see this image because Saint Monica has the faith and devotion that I long to have. I want to live like she lived, devoting every second of my life to God with quiet prayer and adoration. The beautiful image has been on my heart since I saw it almost one week ago. Throughout the Camino which I will begin in two days, I will strive to be like Saint Monica. I will pray for the lost, those yearning for The Lord, and I will strive to serve those around me just as Saint Monica did. I have learned since coming to Spain that the quiet moments of reflection and prayer are sometimes the most spiritual ones. Throughout the Camino I will strive to embrace such moments and meet God in the silence. Right now I am called to lead a prayerful, independent life of faith and hope as I travel. I challenge each of you to lead a life of purpose like Saint Monica. I challenge you to be a loyal person who clings to faith above all else. Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and love.

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